Pasture Degradation in South East Brazil: Status, Drivers and Options for Sustainable Land Use Under Climate Change

  • Dietmar SattlerEmail author
  • Roman Seliger
  • Udo Nehren
  • Friederike Naegeli de Torres
  • Antonio Soares da Silva
  • Claudia Raedig
  • Helga Restum Hissa
  • Jürgen Heinrich
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


The landscapes of the Atlantic Forest region of Southeast Brazil (SE Brazil) have suffered from a long-term historical deforestation and degradation. The vast majority of former forest areas had been transformed into sugar cane and coffee plantations. Especially in the state of Rio de Janeiro, these crops are no longer economically viable and most of the former plantations have been converted into cattle pastures. Due to unsuitable environmental conditions and unsustainable management, most of these pastures are nowadays highly degraded. Taking into account projected climate change with increasing droughts and pronounced heavy rainfalls in SE-Brazil, this pasture landscape is about to lose its socio- ecological resilience. Before this background, this paper analyses the status and drivers of pasture degradation in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro. Moreover, it addresses possible options for pasture rehabilitation based on a case study carried out within the framework of the Brazilian-German INTECRAL project. Additionally, it explores the role of pastures as opportunity areas for climate change mitigation by enhancing the carbon storage capacity at landscape level. As the study is based on a scientific cooperation with the Rio de Janeiro State Secretary of Agriculture as implementation partner, it is expected that experiences presented in this paper will be useful to Brazilian stakeholders and decision makers for improving the adaption to exacerbating environmental conditions in rural areas, driven by climate change and inappropriate land use.


Pasture degradation Land use systems Atlantic forest Climate change adaption 



We like to thank the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for funding the research and development Projects “DINARIO” (FKZ 01LB0801B) and “INTECRAL” (033L162F) and the Rio de Janeiro State Secretariat of Agriculture and Livestock(SEAPEC), hosting the Rio de Janeiro sustainable rural development project (Rio Rural) for facilitating a fruitful cooperation. Furthermore, we are grateful to the staff of EMATER-Rio, PESAGRO-Rio and EMBRAPA Solos for providing excellent logistic backup. Special thanks to Juliana Marisa Santos (Institute of Geography, University of Jena, Germany) and Giuseppe Latorraca for their outstanding support of pilot measure implementation and field research.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dietmar Sattler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Roman Seliger
    • 1
  • Udo Nehren
    • 4
  • Friederike Naegeli de Torres
    • 1
  • Antonio Soares da Silva
    • 2
  • Claudia Raedig
    • 4
  • Helga Restum Hissa
    • 3
  • Jürgen Heinrich
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Geography, Physical Geography and Environmental ResearchUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Laboratory of Physical Geography, Institute of GeographyState University of Rio de Janeiro - UERJRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Secretariat of Agriculture and Livestock of the State of Rio de Janeiro - SEAPEC, Rio Rural ProgrammeNiteróiBrazil
  4. 4.Institute for Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Subtropics (ITT)Technische Hochschule Köln, University of Applied SciencesCologneGermany

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